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Don’t let incontinence hold you back

A great many women of all ages are hampered in their daily lives by urinary incontinence. However difficult, talking about incontinence is the best way to get the information you need to stop it holding you back from living a full active life.

Winning against incontinence
© Thinkstock

While it is estimated that 1 in 3 British women have urinary incontinence at some point in their lives, this subject remains too much of a taboo. Solutions exist and you don’t have to suffer in silence! Start by talking to your doctor about it.

Too many women are suffering incontinence in silence

In July 1998, the World Health Organization recognized that “bladder control problems affect more than 200 million people worldwide and profoundly affect the quality of life of those who too often silently suffer from its life-disrupting consequences.” 1

Since then, other taboos such as erectile dysfunction have been broken, yet the subject of incontinence is still frequently avoided. Urinary incontinence is viewed as a form of regression and is therefore cause for suffering in a society in which “a healthy body is a dry body”, as French psychoanalyst Dr Gisèle Harrus-Revidi2 puts it. This causes patients to feel isolated and that there is no way back from incontinence. 

It’s currently estimated that only 1 in 3 people see their doctors about incontinence. It’s more than 10 years ago, when only 1 in 10 people sought medical advice about it, but the figure remains wholly insufficient, even more so as the lapse of time between the onset of symptoms and the first medical consultation remains extremely long, from 5 to 7 years.

Incontinence really does affect quality of life

The ordeal of incontinence has serious consequences, as multiple studies have highlighted the pernicious effect of incontinence on the quality of life of affected women. The worst form of incontinence for women is urge incontinence, which causes an urgent desire to pass urine. This type of incontinence is felt to be worse than stress incontinence, which occurs during laughter or coughing for instance3, 4,5.

Urge incontinence is more difficult to control and creates more anxiety, as the woman feels nervous about losing control of her body at any moment, thereby raising the risk of depression6. Obviously, the combination of both types of incontinence (mixed urinary incontinence) has the largest impact on the lives of women. Incontinence can cause a woman to reduce her social and/or sexual activity, and can also impact her health as she reduces liquid intake in an ill-placed effort to reduce the risk of inopportune episodes of incontinence.

But there is good news and incontinence is in no way a fatality. Contrary to what you may think, there are solutions available to treat or significantly reduce the disturbance caused by this problem. All you need to do is talk to your doctor about it.

Coming back from incontinence

Rehabilitation, medication and sometimes surgery, can help the majority of people suffering from incontinence. However, if such courses of action are either impossible or unwanted, the next best solution is to use special protection.

These products combine efficacy with discretion. Patients can comfortably wear them while freely engaging in any activity without fear of leakage or unpleasant odours. So if you are living with incontinence, stop suffering in silence and talk to your doctor about it; they’ll be able to help you choose the solution that’s best for you.

1. Press Release WHO/49 1 July 1998 – World Health Organization
2. Press conference; "Comprendre le tabou de l'incontinence urinaire pour mieux le briser", Oct 2003
3. Int J Urol.2008 Jan; 15(1): 62-7
4. BMJ 1987; 295: 528-529
5. BJU Int. 2003 Nov; 92(7): 731-5
6. Neurourol Urodyn.2003; 22(6): 563-8
7. J Med Assoc Thai. 2007 Jan; 90(1): 26-31

Posted 31.01.2011

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